Friday, June 8, 2007

So Why Is Mel Kiper Not a GM? I Give You Robert Meachem

Meachem relaxes on a bench on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

By now it must seem that I have some sort of vendetta against Mel Kiper as this is at least the 5th post featuring a knock of Mel. The truth is that I don't have a problem with him or his job (in fact, I'm very envious of his position), I just feel that he is never held accountable for the asinine things he says year in and year out. Mel Kiper, above all, is an information gatherer. He watches tape, attends games in weird places, talks to a ton of people in "the biz" and waxes his ass hairs (I'm not positive about the last one, but I think it's fair to guess that he does.). He IS NOT A TALENT SCOUT! He gives you information about the players that no one else knows about. He knows their strengths and weaknesses but HE HAS NO IDEA HOW THOSE WILL TRANSLATE TO THE NFL. If he did, he would be working for an NFL team. The only people he is qualified to "rate" are the top 10 guys, and by the time the draft rolls around YOU AND I COULD F'N DO THAT! So I find it humorous that he is given the job of trying to project who will be good and who will stink considering that's not really his job (though he takes it on with gusto). So with this in mind, I've found the kickoff to the Robert Meachem experience (A Mel Kiper favorite) particularly enjoyable.

You may recall that Kiper had Meachem rated very high amongst the wide receiver crop. Kiper also felt that he NEEDED to go to Tennessee. When Tennessee skipped Meachem in favor of safety Michael Griffin of Texas, well, let's just say that Mel disapproved:
Vince Young needed help at wide receiver, and the Titans had Robert Meachem staring right at them. Michael Griffin is a nice safety, but he was a luxury pick and the Titans couldn't afford to take a safety when they needed help at other positions...

The Tennessee Titans desperately needed help at wide receiver and could have used a defensive end. Instead, with the 19th pick in the first round, they took Texas safety Michael Griffin. He's not that versatile and can't play cornerback despite being 5-11½, 205 pounds. They took Griffin when wide receivers Robert Meachem and Dwayne Bowe were still available.
But Mel doesn't stop there, "He's not that versatile and can't play cornerback despite being 5-11½, 205 pounds." Well Mel, not exactly. Upon entering Titans camp, Griffin was immediately moved to cornerback (I can't emphasize this enough, Mel doesn't get the talent translation thing). I also like that Mel praised New Orleans for the pick when they had one of the tend worst rusn defenses in the league and didn't take Durant or David Harris. And while Mel couldn't have foreseen what has gone on since the draft, if he's the super scout he claims to be, maybe he could have followed Meachem to the buffet line:
"He struggled some. He had some blisters on his feet, and he's overweight. Today, he tweaked his ankle a little bit during the morning practice. It hasn't been all roses for him. He's been on that first-round tour that these guys go on where they visit all these teams and eat all these fun dinners. And it looks like it right now. So he's got a ways to go."

Meachem agreed his pre-draft schedule hurt his conditioning, "I think I had like nine visits or so. And every visit they give you a big old meal. So for me, I tried to work out when I could, but I don't think I got enough workouts in."
Fortunately for Mel (and Meachem), many players have come in out of shape and worked out fine because the offseason workouts are so demanding. Marques Colston for instance:
"Meachem said, 'He (Marques) talked to me and he told me he probably got in his best shape during offseason workouts between rookie camp and training camp. It gave me a little confidence.'"
Well, that's good. Meachem will be ship shape by the time training camp rolls around. What? He's not going to be able to participate in the offseason workout because he just had surgery to repair a recurring knee injury you say? And the doctors are as optimistic about this surgery as they were the last time a doctor performed the same surgery (which flared up less than 4 years later). Well, at least with the power of positive thinking Meachem can get through this:
"I kind of feel discouraged a little bit because I want to show the coaches what I can do and you can't show them what you can do when you're hurt," Meachem said Wednesday. "For me, it's going to be a time I've got to keep praying and just stay focused - don't let the knee injury get to me."
Robby, you might want to add "....and stay away from the Gumbo" to your list of things you need to do over the next 6 months. Good call on this one Mel. The Titans must be really upset they passed on a chronically injured fat kid with motivation problems and an overeating disorder.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mike Lowell - Renaissance Man

Take a look at these two players and there numbers so far this year:

Player A: Avg: .330, 17 2b, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 17 Ks, OBP: .385, SLG%: .574, OPS: .959

Player B: Avg. .292, 11 2b, 12 HR, 33 RBI, 20 Ks, OBP: .378, SLG%: .517, OPS: .894

Clearly player A is having the better year but to put his statistics in context, player A is in the top ten for Home Runs, 6th in RBI, 9th in average, 6th in OPS and in 200+ ABs, he's only struck out 17 times. That's lowest strikeout rate amongst players in the top 25 OPS. Player A is Mike Lowell and player B is Albert Pujols.

Now the reason I offer Pujols as a comparison is because A.) It's a big name and is an attention drawer (though I am in NO WAY suggesting that Mike Lowell is the hitter that Pujols is. I'm merely juxtaposing their stats for the purpose of showing the outstanding year Lowell is having this year.); and B.) Pujols, while not having a huge year, is still on pace to hit near .300, drive in 100 runs and hit 35 Home Runs; which means that Lowell is on pace for even bigger things this year. Regardless of how he ends up, he's having a hell of a year and he is one of the major reasons that Manny was able to start slow, Ortiz was able to go 60 ABs without a home run, JD Drew is able to fly under the radar and the Red Sox are able to continue winning. These are things you can find in the Box Score, but there is much more to Lowell than merely his stats. Here are a few other things that Lowell has done or does:

Lowell is a cancer survivor. In 1999, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer while in Spring Training. He came back to play in May of that year and won the Tony Canigliaro Award as the player who best overcomes an obstacle or adversity.

Lowell HATES Fidel Castro. Last year after Castro became sick, Lowell, the son of a Cuban refugee, was asked what he thought about Castro's illness said, “Castro killed members of my family... I hope he does die.”

Lowell was one of the Sox who hit 4 home runs in a row on April 22nd.
But what I found most interesting about Lowell was this little ditty in Gammo's latest column about Lowell making promises to a dead girl's family:

On April 20, Courtney Butcher of Worcester, Mass., a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, called her father, Jim, to talk about the Monster seats Jim had purchased for the family for the Sunday night game. Lowell was her favorite player. That night, right after Courtney talked to her father, she and three friends were killed in an automobile accident. That Sunday night, Jim took his other children to the game. In the 4-HR inning, Lowell's shot went right to the Butcher family.

The next day, a friend of the family called Sarah Stevenson of the Red Sox, who relayed the message to Lowell, and he signed a uniform with these words: "Courtney, May God Be With You, Rest in Peace." He also sent word to Jim Butcher that he would homer for Courtney. The wake was that Tuesday, April 24, and Lowell's uniform was draped over Courtney's coffin. That night, he homered against the Blue Jays.
Ewwwwwwww K. A couple things about this disturb me about this (not the least of which being that their daughter died in a tragic car accident on the 20th and the family was at a baseball game on the 22nd), but how about Lowell pulling the Babe Ruth / Paul O'Neill via Kramer in Seinfeld move. I don't know, maybe it's just me but I'm not promising a grieving family a Home Run even if I'm playing home run derby in a little league park. Those people are clearly not dealing with this very well and Lowell's move, had it not worked out, would not have helped. I guess this is proof positive that this year he can do no wrong.

The True Story About The Importance of The Standings In June

It makes me sad to think that there are college graduates reading this who were not alive when the above season ended.

If you pay attention to the coverage of Major League Baseball, you've likely heard folks talk about how the Red Sox have the AL East wrapped up and the rest of the AL East is playing for the Wild Card. There are a couple of things that bother me about this. One of them is that in NY, people say this because secretly they believe the Sox are going to blow the lead and when they do they will use this lead as ammo that the Sox "blew the lead." This is a common sports pundit move. It makes good copy to take a such a hard-line stance about something, plus you lower the expectations of your base so that if their team makes any kind of charge, it looks good. Being a Sox fan I am all too familiar with this ploy. The other problem I have with this talk is that a 10+ game swing in the standings from June to October is not all that uncommon.

Last year on June 6th, Minnesota was back 11.5 games from Detroit. On October 1, Minnesota was up 1 on Detroit. I don't think I heard about Detroit's "collapse" that year. Also last year, Texas was up 3.5 on Oakland on June 6th. As of October 1, Texas was 13 back of the AL West leading A's. Let's just say that the headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Sports Section on October 2nd was not RANGERS DROP 16.5 GAMES IN STANDINGS BETWEEN JUNE 1st AND OCTOBER 1st. In the NL West, Arizona was leading that division by a 1.5 games on June 6th. By October 1st, they were 13 games back. And the Sox themselves dropped 11.5 games in the standings last year between June 1st and October 1st. So to put that into context, of the 4 division winners who were not in first on June 1st, the team that eventually won the division last year ended up making up an average of about 13.5 games over the team that was in the lead as of June 1st. So it was more likely that a team in first as of June 1st would lose 10+ games in the standings to the division eventual winner than not. Essentially that means that the only teams mathematically eliminated are Kansas City and Texas.

So when you think about it, if the Yanks made up the (as of right now) 11 games, not only would it really not be that big a deal, it's almost predictable. It's more likely than not that the Sox will slip 10 games to the eventual leader by year's end. In fact, the Yankees would be an abject failure if they did not make up 13 games between now and October 1st. A joke if you will (see what I did there? If don't see it, re-read my first gripe about why the current standings are being talked about so much. Yes, I know. I'm very clever.).

A D-Bag Goes To The D-League

Well, looks like Quin really landed on his feet after that Mizzou debacle, eh?

As mentioned in my profile, I have a irrational hatred for Quin Snyder. He's just one of those guys that people hate just by looking at them. My dad hated a Northern New York weatherman named Tom Messner, a friend of mine has a similar loathing for Andy Garcia and a friend of mine's dad hates Alan Thicke (no word on how he feels about Thicke's falsetto singing son). To be honest, if you asked my why I feel so strongly about him, I could not possibly explain it. I will tell you, however, that while I can't explain it, I sure can feel it, and the sensation of hatred is palpable and real (as few know, the original name for this blog was "Can't Stand Quin Snyder," and that was during a period of time where Quin was neither seen nor heard, unless were around a meth lab or high school party near Mercer Island, Washington). Anyhoo, it was announced today that our friend Quin did what other former disgraced college coaches have done before him (see Jim Harrick), he signed with the D-League's Austin Toros. It is gonna be just too sweet knowing that Quin will be taking the Team van to Motel 6's in rockin towns like Fort Wayne, Bismarck and Albuquerque. I will really enjoy this while it lasts. But what I find most ironic about the situation is that Quin, a disgraced coach who broke several rules while in the college game, is joining a team with a bit of a scandalous past itself:
The mascot, known as Da Bull, prematurely ran onto the court and hung from the rim with .4 seconds remaining, apparently to punctuate center Loren Woods' breakaway dunk that gave the Toros a four-point lead over Colorado.

While hanging from the rim, the Toros detailed in a news release Thursday, Da Bull collided with a Colorado player. At the point of contact, the mascot's head, to his horror, fell to the floor.

The Toros were assessed a technical foul. The 14ers' Von Wafer made the free throw, but Rick Rickert missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the score as time expired.

"I was hanging there in celebration," Da Bull said. "I didn't see the ball in play."

Da Bull was suspended for two games and assigned by the team to 50 hours of community service. A replacement mascot will perform in his absence; Da Bull is expected to return to duty Feb. 2 when the Toros play the Bakersfield Jam.
Unfortunately for Quin, Mizzou wasn't so understanding. But it got me thinking that maybe there was more to this hiring than just using Quin's tremendous marketing cache. Maybe this team wants to emulate the fiery "no holds barred" style of "Da Bull" and hired Quin as an extension of this new attitude. Da Bull and Quin seem to have a lot in common. Given that this seems like more than a coincidence, I thought it might be interesting to compare the two. Well fortunately, the Toros have a "Da Bull Bio" on their site. So how closely does Quin compare to Da Bull?

Da Bull: Height: 6-2
Quin: Height: 6-3

Da Bull: Shoe Size: 13
Quin: Shoe Size: 7

Da Bull: Favorite Color: Toros Blue and Red
Quin: Favorite Color: Powder White

Da Bull: Favorite Foods: ALL
Quin: Favorite Foods: Chicken and Cock Sandwich, hold the chicken

Da Bull: Favorite Book: How To Be the Best Mascot In The Game
Quin: Favorite Book: The Secret

Da Bull: Favorite Music: Hip Hop
Quin: Favorite Music: Genesis after '78

Da Bull: Favorite Hangout: The Austin Convention Center otherwise known as “Da Bull Pen”
Quin: Favorite Hangout: Parking lots of high school dances and the cold medicine sections of CVS

Da Bull: Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock (She lives in Austin too!)
Quin: Favorite Actress: RuPaul

Da Bull: Role Model: San Antonio Spurs Coyote
Quin: Role Model: Caligula

Da Bull: Attitude towards life: Da Bull loves to create excitement. He is 100% pure energy. He likes to pass this energy to everyone around him.
Quin: Attitude towards life: Fuck it, they'll never find out...

Da Bull: Response to audience: Da Bull loves people, especially children!
Quin: Response to audience: "Tell 'chesty' in section 12, row 3, that I'm in room 102 at the Super 8 right off I-40 next to the Waffle House. And tell her I'll make it rain if she makes it snow."

Da Bull: Pet Peeves: When people pull on DA BULL’S TAIL!!!!
Quin: Pet Peeves: Narcs

Da Bull: Hobbies: Da Bull loves to play games and be active and he also loves cars
Quin: Hobbies: Needlepoint

Best of luck Quin.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sports Guy v. Cowherd: An ESPN Family Feud

The pre-Louie Anderson version of "The Feud".

This could get good folks. We may have a legitimate feud on our hands here from two ESPN personalities who can't help themselves but comment about the other's work. If you read Simmons's blog yesterday, you may have seen the line about ESPN radio's Colin Cowherd about 3/5 the way down. And the beauty of it is that he didn't just kind of politely correct him or point out some flaws in Herd's argument, he pretty much told him to F off. And what's even better than that is that there is NO WAY that Cowherd doesn't respond today. But if you're not following, allow me to set the scene:

After Kobe told the world he wanted to be traded, Simmons posted a list of possible trade partners for the Lakers. He explained that it would be very difficult to make a deal but not impossible. To Simmons credit, no one I read has a better grasp of the inner workings of the NBA's salary cap, how salaries match up and the value of the expiring contract. So while I could give a shit about the NBA, I trust Simmons knows what he's talking about. But in viewing the trades, I was struck that none of them looked all that remarkable. The best one, the Shawn Marion deal, even seemed a little light for arguably the best scorer of his generation. But then again, I don't think Simmons was suggesting that the Lakers should make any of these deals, he was simply pointing out deals that he felt could be made. Well, then came Cowherd...

The Herd is not exactly a fan favorite in the blogosphere to begin with. He's notorious for blatantly ripping off material from blogs without giving them credit and was excoriated by ESPN's ombudsman and forced to apologize on air for telling people to rush to The Big Lead and crash the site (which they successfully did). After the Kobe rant and Simmons's post, Herd spent most of his show telling his listeners that there's no way a Kobe deal was going to happen and that all of the Simmons trade scenarios were absurd. He went through most of them and his argument was that none of the names were big enough to warrant a Kobe deal. He kinda pegged Simmons as a basketball nerd (though I think his intention was to give credit to Simmons's knowledge of the NBA) and his point was that if these are the best deals that ESPN's resident NBA geek can come up with, then there's no chance he is getting traded. I didn't find it to be anti-Simmons and in fact kind of found it to be an extension of what Simmons had written about. Apparently Bill didn't see it that way.

Yesterday, Simmons wrote that Cowherd was lazy and that he didn't read the entire post. He basically called him an idiot for not understanding Simmons main points and then went on to say that Cowherd "embarrassed himself by not understanding basic NBA trading principles". But my favorite was that without a hint of irony, Simmons, a blogger, took a not-so-subtle dig at Cowherd's profession as a radio personality and how because the job is so easy you should never make the mistake of being misinformed, and then was misinformed about Herd's show himself:
Your show's on for three hours a day and you get four giant commercial breaks per hour. That leaves you plenty of time to research your segments so you don't come off as misinformed. No offense.
No offense Bill, but Cowherd's show airs for 4 hours. You would think that during ONE OF YOUR THREE GIANT COMMERCIAL BREAKS during your mid-morning viewing of the previous night's episode of the Inferno on your TiVo you could have researched Cowherd's show and learned how long it is on the air. No offense.

ESPN doesn't really like infighting, but these two "rabble-rousers" are too popular to be tamed and their egos are too big to stand down. So I say, "Colin, your response?"

(UPDATE: Herd responded and said pretty much what I said. He really held back from responding in his usual more combative manner. Pretty weak, though it was enough that Simmons will be forced to offer some sort of surreply that will likely be some kind of smug half-apology. I'm holding out hope that Simmons rips Colin again because there's no way Colin's response to that would be as cordial.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

This Is Why Tony Romo Sucks

Take away the Tampa Bay blow out, Tony Romo is one of the worst QBs in the league.

Since I'm all about comparisons today, let's compare the performance of two QBs from last year.
QB 1
This Quarterback led his team deep into the playoffs (if I give you more details it will give it away), threw more touchdowns than interceptions in 9 of 16 games and finished the year with these stats:

262 / 480, 3193 yards, 23 Tds, 20 Ints, 4.2 Ints/Attempt

QB 2
This Quarterback led his team into the playoffs, threw more Touchdowns than interceptions in only 5 of his 11 starts (4 of 11 if you take away his fluke game) and finished the season with the following stat line if you take away his one absurd blowout on national TV that is the reason for all of the love thrown his way:

198 / 308, 2587 yds, 14Tds, 13 Ints, 4.2 Ints/Attempt

Other than completion percentage, these players had pretty similar stats. If you could name the worst QB in the league last year, who would you think of? I'll give you a second (again). You probably guessed Andrew Walter, well you're wrong but pretty close. Maybe Brett Favre? Nope, but closer. Hows about Eli Manning? No, but now you're real warm. Think about an angry and crazy fan base and a VERY good team. Got it? Yup, QB A is Rex Grossman. QB B then is Tony Romo if you take away the Tampa Bay Bucs game on Thanksgiving last year. Basically, without that game against the Bucs, Tony Romo is one of the worst QBs in the league. I'll get into this more deeply in a second, or now...

I hate Tony Romo. I really do. I do not hate the Cowboys but I do dislike them with a passion. They're the Yankees, Notre Dame and Duke; you either love em or hate em. I used to hate them but warmed up to them a bit because of Michael Irvin's fashion sense on Countdown every Sunday morning (a comically short tie goes a long way towards securing a place in my heart). My hatred of Romo in particular has to due with his undeserved ascension to Quarterback royalty within many circles in the football community. It's as if he took some fledgling franchise on his back and carried them to the promise land. When in fact he took a team many people had picked to win the Super Bowl and was 3-2 when took over and beat the Panthers, Cardinals, Bucs and Falcons (4 of the 6 worst teams in the NFL), and was AWFUL in the two wins they pulled out over the Giants and Colts. He was 1-3 against the NFC East, and in only one of those games did he have more TDs than Ints (and it wasn't the game he won). Not only that but in a key game against Philly in week 16, he put together an almost historically bad performance when it counted the most. And this was all before he blew the playoff game (a game in which he again was playing horribly before he fucked it all up). So even if we give him the Tampa Bay game, he did not have a great year last year. But we are not giving him the Tampa Bay game and it really needs to be looked at with a grain of salt so that Romo's season can be exposed for what it really is: A fucking disgrace.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Dallas Cowboys sha-fucking-lacked the Tampa Bay Bucs in Dallas. In the game, Tony Romo threw for 300+ yards, completed 75% of his passes, didn't get picked and had 5 Tds. A MONSTER performance. Really something. But how good was it? Well, as it turns out, the Bucs were probably the worst team in the NFL last year (you could argue Oakland was the worst but Oakland's defense was so good it's hard to argue that they were the overall worst). They had the third fewest Ints in the league, third fewest sacks in the league, gave up the second most passing TDs and ranked in the bottom of pretty much every pass defense stat you can think of. So it wasn't like he was competing agains the '85 Bears. But a closer look at the game itself reveals so much more about Romo's "transcendent" performance. Romo threw for touchdowns of 2 yards, 1 yard, 2 yards, 7 yards and 30 yards. Three were 2 yards or less and two were thrown when the game was clearly out of hand and probably wouldn't have been called if Parcells wasn't still trying to get a feel for his rookie QB's capabilities. And what he found is that up 20 pts, Tony Romo can complete a 2 yard pass. So this game that was apparently Tony Romo's coming out party was the equivalent of evaluating Brady Quinn's abilities after his performance against North Carolina or Air Force. To put it as clearly as possible, in a statistical sense, Romo's Tampa Bay game is the equivalent of Brady Anderson's 1996 season. It's because of this that I choose to evaluate Romo without taking into account the Tampa Bay game.

First, it's not as though Romo had a frickin banner year even with the absurd Tampa Bay game. The guy was in the bottom 50% for Int/Attempt, had 3 games where his passer rating was 58 or lower and lost to the Lions and the Skins. His saving grace was his completion percentage, which was amongst the highest in the league and accounts for his skewed status in the eyes of people who value that stat. But what is so striking is that when you take the Tampa game away from Romo, he doesn't just look average, he looks horrible. His QB rating (I know, I hate this stat but people use it) goes from 95.1 to 88.4. A seven point drop. No other QB in the league loses more than 3 points if you take away their best day. Romo goes from the middle of the road in terms of Int/attempts to bottom three, and his average ratio of 19 Tds to 13 Ints is horrendous at 14 and 13 if you take the Tampa game away. The best part is that even if you replace the Tampa game with an above average game for Romo (2tds and 1 Int), his final stats would still be horrendous at 16 Tds and 14 Ints. What I'm trying to make clear here is that not only is Tony Romo not a good QB, he's not even really average. And not only that, he had his best chance to succeed last year. It's not like this young buck can just put this behind him and get better, he's 27 and cocky as hell. He has reached his physical peak and is only going to get worse on that side. In terms of mental development, if he was going to learn something he was going to learn it from Parcells. With the easy going Wade Phillips running the show, Romo is in for a serious regression. Plus, who is going to lead that team, T.O.? This is why people weren't crazy when they were pissed that Big D didn't make a move for Quinn. Romo is not the future and he's hardly the past. He is simply not not good enough. And the sooner people realize that, the easier it will be to move on.

The QB Rating Is Ridiculous

This blackboard makes much more sense than the NFL's QB rating.

I'm gonna start by listing a stat set for three QBs and let you guess which one has the highest QB rating. I'm then going to tell you which one was the highest before I allow you to tell me your guess, thereby making useless your actual guess. Got it? Here goes

27/35, 280 yards, 3Tds, 6 Ints

27/35, 250 yards, 0Tds, 1 Int

25/48 305 yards, 3Tds, 1 Int

Ok, now you guess which Quarterback has the highest QB rating. You ready? I'll give you another second. Well to start, it's not QB B. His rating is the second highest (84.2). If that was your pick, pick again out of A or C. If you picked C, you are wrong. Pick again (just kidding. If you picked again, put your head down on your desk and nap it up for a little bit. The rest of this post may give you a headache.). So QB A, who threw for 5 more Ints and less yards than QB C while throwing the same amount of TDs as C, has a higher "rating" (88.7) than C (84.1). Well that makes sense, right? No, actually it doesn't at all.

The QB rating is often cited by broadcasters, pundits and "those in the know" as the defining statistic for Quarterbacks. It is a mysterious formula conceived by some stat dorks that attempts to compare how well Quarterbacks performed on a particular afternoon as well as over the course of the season. It is an "all-encompassing" statistic (the exact explanation can be found here) that takes into account percentage of completions per attempt, average yards gained per attempt, percentage of touchdown passes per attempt and percentage of interceptions per attempt. In reality, the QB rating is essentially a modified efficiency rating (as opposed to the college game's "QB Efficiency Rating". A comparison can be found here) and if it were used in the same vein as the college rating (to compare efficiency of the passing game) as opposed to the NFL's described more universal purpose:
The NFL rates its passers for statistical purposes against a fixed performance standard based on statistical achievements of all qualified pro passers since 1960. The current system replaced one that rated passers in relation to their position in a total group based on various criteria.

The current system, which was adopted in 1973, removes inequities that existed in the former method and, at the same time, provides a means of comparing passing performances from one season to the next....
I would have no problem with it. Instead the QB rating has morphed into this uber statistic by which all QBs are measured. Well I'm here to tell you that while it is a useful statistic to measure a QB's efficiency year in and year out, and is helpful in comparing how efficient different QBs are, it has little use beyond that and has no use in determining if one QB "performed" better than another in a given game, season or career.

One of the main problems with the QB rating is that it is too heavily weighted towards completion percentage and does not weight heavily enough interceptions. To illustrate this concern and because my first example went so well, allow me to give another example to help flush out my point:

QB A - 25/40, 300 yards, 3 Tds, 5 Ints = QB rating of 70.8

Let's give QB B +10 more completions:
QB B - 35/40, 300 yards, 3 Tds, 5 Ints = QB rating of 83.3

Now instead of the +10 completions, let's give QB C all of QB A's stats but give him -2 Ints:
QB C - 25/40, 300 yards, 3 Tds, 3 Ints = QB rating of 79.2

Interesting. So the yards were the same, the touchdowns were the same but because passer completed 10 more passes, QB B's rating is still higher than QB C's despite the fact that QB B through two more interceptions. QB B was more efficient, but is it really fair to say that a QB who threw 5 interceptions had a better day than a guy who threw 3 if the only thing he did better that day was complete more passes? Give me the 3 Int guy any day. Especially considering that in the NFL the team that wins the turnover battle has about an 75% chance of winning the game. And shouldn't a universal QB rating be a statistical reflection of the positive impact a passer has on his team's ability to win? I would think so. A quarterback's interceptions are far more impactful on a team's ability to win than 5 or 10 extra completions and should be weighted accordingly.

Another more common complaint about the rating is that the maximum rating you can possibly have is arbitrarily 158.33. As a matter of convenience and statistical aesthetics, I can understand the problem with it but this is coming from a country that measures distances in terms of 5280 feet when there's a perfectly reasonable system available that is a little more pleasing to the Ol' calculator. Where I do see this being a problem is that the maximum QB rating can be achieved whether a guy goes 5/5 for 80 yards and 1 td or 40/40 for 500 yards and 5 tds. That seems a little odd to me. A good rating would take into account the percentages as well as the cumulation of statistics. I don't think it should be possible to obtain a perfect rating.

A final problem that I have with the QB rating is that it doesn't take into account how much better than the average a QB is playing. One of the measurement factors I would take into account would be the deviation from the mean for all QBs across the league. I don't think you can have a QB rating without using a system that has built in comparisons for what is going on in the current season or is at least reflective of the historical percentages. For instance, if in a given year most QBs are throwing 1 or 2 tds per game and one or two guys are throwing 3 a game, that difference should be reflected in whatever rating is created to compare QBs. This is important in terms of historical context. If the rules change and in the future QBs are throwing 50 Tds per year consistently, a year like Peyton Manning had in 2004 won't be properly understood unless there is some stat to show how far above average he was that year. The QB rating is capable of just that type of comparison if properly created (I am likely not the man to do it, though I may give it a shot in the coming weeks).

In conclusion, the biggest problem I have with the NFL's QB rating is that people use it improperly. If you want to use it to show how efficient a QB has been in a game and how that efficiency has helped a team win, that's fine. If you want to use it to justify why one QB is better or has performed better over a given period of time, it's almost useless by itself. You need context. And any stat that cannot stand by itself isn't really worth using.

Sweet, I've Turned Into An Asshole

This guy seems like fun.

(I apologize that this is going to be a little long, but it's a part of my healing process)

For most of my years, I have defined Yankees fans as jerks who think they are entitled to greatness because their organization tells them they are great. During the more formative years of my life, anytime the Sox did anything good, I would be reminded of 1918 even though few of the people citing that year could tell me what it meant, fewer could tell me who the Sox beat that year and even fewer could spell the number "18." That was one of the great things about the 2004 season. Not only did it do away with Yanks' fans most clever cheers, but it was done in such an historic fashion that I figured the taunts would have to subside to a degree. I mean, no matter how you slice it, NO ONE had ever come back from 0-3 and therefore the Yanks were the ONLY TEAM IN HISTORY to ever lose after being up 3-0. It was a defeat capable of humbling any team's fan base. Or so I thought.

In response to the historic 2004 defeat, the Yanks underground marketing crew (a crew who had been asleep since they created the "1918" chant only to breifly awake for the "Who's Your Daddy" chant of 2003) came up with their newest ploy: "Got Rings?" This newest scheme--an effort to depict just how much better the Yanks franchise is--features a t-shirt (seen left) that copies the Milk ad's "Got Milk?" ploy but substitutes the word "Rings" for "Milk." The shirt then goes onto explain that the Yanks franchise has won 26 MLB championships while the Sox have only won 6 (even though the Jorts-wearing hairlips who wear those shirts have only been alive for a max of 6 of those series. I don't go around bragging about 1903 team or the '15 & '16 back-to-back years). It's meant to put the Sox's first championship in almost 90 years into context as a drop in the bucket compared to the venerable and esteemed Yankees' franchise ("Pride, Power, Pinstripes"). And that's fine. I just found it a little pathetic that in response to getting killed in a series in 2004 that they were touting victories in the 1920's. It'd be like Iraq after getting its ass handed to it in the most recent desert conflict creating t-shirts that said "Call Us When You've Dominated A Region For 5,000 years," featuring a list of the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar and how dominant the Ottoman Empire was. Ok, congrats. You still got your ass kicked last year. But what got under my skin about the whole thing was that there needed to be a response at all. I thought that was pretty weak. I figured they could just move on, reload and try and win the next one. I thought that it might be humbling and almost revitalizing to the fanbase to realize that the rivalry may actually become a "rivalry" in the sense of being able to try and best eachother for a championship each year as opposed to knowing that one team was always failing at the end. I guess I thought the slate was now clean and a new era of competition had begun. But more than anything, it pissed me off because there's nothing I can say in response and there's a very good chance that the deficit will not be made up in my lifetime. So unlike the 1918 chant, I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. It's really annoying to come to that realization and I thought that people who stoop to the "26-6" level are just assholes crasping at straws and shifting the argument away from their own sad realization that their team will forever be known as the team that choked in 2004 in a way no team ever had. And I really thought that this type of behavior was idiosyncratic solely of some Yankees Fans. So it was with this sentiment in mind that this morning I realized that I too am that asshole.

Last night's Yanks - Red Sox game was tough on a lot of levels. I got home late and was only able to catch the end of the 8th and the 9th innings. The Sox flailed away in the bottom of the 8th and even the white hot Dustin Pedroia couldn't give them the lead going into the 9th on a routine ball to right that Bobby Abreu made look like a scorching liner because he has aged 40 years in the last 2 months. As soon as I saw Papelbon up, I had a bad feeling. It was only a matter of time before the Yanks got a big hit off of him and Sox bullpen had been too good for too long this season and was due for a letdown (only later did I learn that Okajima had given up the tying run). Paps had also been wild recently and gotten himself in and out of jams in the ninth but not before flirting with dangerous hitters with men on base like he did with Hafner the other night (before making him look stupid). But after he blew Abreu away, I felt pretty confident he could get A-Rod who never hits the high and tight fastball that Papelbon would surely throw him. A-Rod was a second late on the first pitch and was on time but a little off on the next fould tip. Tek set up outside and you figure the splitter is coming and A-Rod has to swing at anything that has a chance of clipping the black because the strike zone was getting wider as the rain fell harder. Paps' fastball was coming in so quick he could bounce two in the dirt before throwing another fastball and A-Rod would never have caught up with it. But he wanted to put him away with his best pitch and A-Rod got it. It was a good if not great pitch. A 94mph'er low and away, but A-Rod is so frickin strong that he just muscled it into the Sox bullpen. It was even more impressive when in the bottom half of the inning Ortiz didn't have enough muscle to get Rivera's middle of the plate meatball into the same bullpen. It was a tough loss at home, to your rivals and while it may not have any effect on the outcome of the season (it likely will not), all I could think of was my response to anyone who gave me shit about the home run the next day. Was I going to say, "Call me when they're within 10" or "Congrats on not being last place" or whatever. And then it hit me: I was that same defensive asshole who when faced with a tough defeat focused on a situation that had little to do with what happened on the field of the game in question. I was essentially the guy wearing the "Got Rings?" shirt. Rather than just shut up and take the tough defeat, take the barbs at work and coming from friends knowing full well the Sox are way ahead, I had to taunt back. When did I become such a prick? It was a depressing realization but more than teach me that I am a dickhead, I think the conclusion that I've come to is not that I'm an asshole just like Yankees Fans, it was instead that I'm an asshole just like everybody else. Anytime your team has an edge on some level over your rival's team, you are going to use that edge as your the crux of your argument regardless of how relevant it is to the situation or conversation: The Eagles have beat up the Giants in recent years; well when's the last time the Eagles won a championship? The Colts beat the Pats last year; wake me up when you get your third ring. The New Jersey Nets flopped in the playoffs; your team is run by Isiah. Jason Giambi's contract is the worst signing in history; well, you're ugly. It's what we do. We use whatever chips we have. It's only natural to grasp at those straws even if they don't necessarily offer a perfectly relevant response to the matter at hand. So while I'm not pleased that I stooped to the "Got Rings?" level, I feel a little better that I'm like all the rest of you assholes out there.

What You Missed If You Didn't Sit Through 3 And A Half Hours Of Rain In Philadelphia Yesterday

Even after Shane Victorino won the game with a walk off home run on his own Bobblehead Day, it was still questionable whether that or Danny Devito's Hula dance on top of the Phil's dugout in the 7th was the best moment of the day.

This is going to kind of be a tease until I can get the Devito pictures uploaded, but yesterday's game in Philly was perhaps the most entertaining non-playoff baseball game I've ever been to. It had everything: Home runs, constant rain, great catches, Bonds grounding out in a critical situation in the 8th, a walk-off by Victorino and Danny Devito throwing out the first pitch and leading the stadium in "Philadelphia's largest hula dance." The pictures are absolutely unbelievable and I can't wait to post them, so stay tuned for that....


The real Sultan of swing (LOL! LMAO! LMFAO!).

First, I need to point out that the caption below this photograph is meant to be sarcastic and is only meant to reference the headlines found here, here and here. I don't use the text acronyms and that fact is important enough to me that no one (even people I don't know) believes that I do use them that I feel the need to make it clear before I begin this post even though you could probably tell anyway.

Anyhoo, Saturday night, in what is another in a long line of ridiculous chain of events for Boxing's premiere weight class, the WBO Heavyweight Championship fight featured the undefeated and very talented Sultan Ibragimov beating up on a fat kid. Ibragimov absolutely beat the shit out of the asthmatic and not exactly in the best shape of his life, Shannon Briggs, to win the WBO Heavyweight Champion. It was evident that Briggs was just looking to get paid the $1.8 million and hoping he could land a knock out punch:
He [Briggs] weighed in at a very high 273-pounds for the bout, which Briggs claims is the result of asthma medicine complicating his training camp. Briggs said that he was hurting so bad from asthma medication that he wanted to pull out of the fight.

"I was hurting," Briggs said. "And he was running. He kept running. I proved that someone with asthma can become heavyweight champion twice. For two weeks I couldn't train. I was taking all kinds of antibiotics. I didn't want to fight but they made me fight."
What's a shame about the fight is not only that no one watched it or cared about it, but Ibragimov is a good fighter and has kind of an "it" quality about his boxing style that people should be excited about but the match-up with Briggs delegitamized the whole event. I was watching MSG last week and they showed his fight against Javier Mora in March (Mora was a late replacement for Briggs after Briggs bailed due to "pneumonia") and Ibragimov just annihilated him in 40 some seconds. Mora, while not a heavyweight contender necessarily, is no chump and he came out of that fight looking like he had withstood a 15 round war, collapsing outside of the ring. MSG also broadcast his fight with Al Cole, a fight in which Cole was dispatched in about 3 rounds and never had a chance. Ibragimov is not big (6'2", 215lbs), he's not particularly brash but the way he fights reminds me of Tyson with a little better technical skill and stamina (he's and he's actually being "coached" by Tyson). He's a former silver medalist from the 2000 Olympics, so he comes with a pedigree of technical skill but he's got HUGE punching power. He murders you on the inside and has a lethal upper cut. His fights are exciting to watch because he can hit like Tyson but he can take shots and he's much quicker than most guys in his weight class. He's going to present a ton of problems to opponents from here on out and the next time he fights I will make a point to watch. Hopefully next tiem they can pick an opponent who doesn't have a wheezing fit after the 3rd round.

We're 101! We're 101! (now 111)!

Ranked 101 and waffling. The Smittblog is at least on the board.

On Friday, Deadspin linked to BallHype's blog rankings. Well, at the time it was released, the Smittblog was ranked 101 in all the world (at least all the world according to Ballhype, which is fine by me). Today The Smittblog sits at 111 (likely due to the fact that I've been a little off my game due to work recently, but that's all about to change thanks to the rankings impetus). It's probably not something to be too terribly proud of but it will be something to keep an eye as I move forward and try and get more stuff per week out. So thanks to Ballhype for putting it all together and we'll see if I can break into the top 100 (and hopefully higher) in the coming weeks. I've got some good stuff coming out this week, I promise.

Tim McCarver - Groin Specialist

When word of history's most predictable groin injury outside of an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos trickled into the broadcast booth at around the 3rd inning mark of Saturday's Yanks - Sox game, the funniest part wasn't that the signing of the 45 year-old second coming looks like it's going to end worse than the Hindenburg or that Suzy Waldman had to be given the Heimlich Manuever after she choked on her tongue upon hearing the news or that Clemens lost $1.8 million for being old or even that on his ESPN Radio show on Friday, Michael Kay gave away flight, hotel and airfare to a radio listener to watch the first Clemens start in Chicago tonight (though that is really really funny), it was Tim McCarver's almost 2 inning rant about the description of Clemens's injury. Clemens is not pitching tonight because of a "fatigued groin." Upon hearing this news, McCarver, in his downhome Tennessee twang, uttered the phrase "fatigued groin" upwards of 30 times over the next 25 minutes. It was outstanding. He was just blown away by the concept of a fatigued groin, and not in the way an 11 year-old would be (or a 29 year-old with the maturity level of an 11 year-old). The only thing funnier than listening to McCarver discuss the "fatigued groin" injury without having any concept of the subtle comedy that a phrase such as that presents would have been to be inside Joe Buck's head as McCarver said it. During this half hour discussion, Buck didn't add ANYTHING. He just sat there and called the game. The reason for the silence, I'm sure, is that unless you are Tim McCarver and can't see the endless possibilities that such a phrase presents, the discussion of such a groin injury on national television is very dangerous. He must've wanted to make so many comments (comments that I'm sure were made in bars across America). Instead, Buck had to listen to McCarver wax: "...a fatigued groin? What in the wooooooorld is a 'fatigued groin.' How does one's groin.... get fatigued? I've seen a 'pulled groin,' and a 'sore groin,' but fatigued? I've never heard of such a thing in all my life...." without being able to reply, "Well, Tim, you've obviously never spent a weekend in Reno with a bag of fun and the 'E' section of the yellow pages...."